Odisha FC have a strong team but we can beat them: Hyderabad FC’s Manuel Marquez

Hyderabad FC head coach Manuel Marquez does not feel pressure amidst the team’s recent performances and believes his team can beat any team in the league, as his side battles it out against Odisha FC in match 43 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 season on Tuesday at the Athletic Stadium in Bambolim, Goa.

Marquez reflected on his team’s style of play and admitted that his team needs to brush up to achieve their desired style of play. Further, Marquez shared that his team would fight till the end for the top four finish and urged them to keep calm and improve through each game.

Ahead of his side’s clash against Odisha FC, Marquez addressed the media during a pre-match press conference.

Here are the excerpts from Marquez’s press conference:

What are your expectations in the game against Odisha FC?

My expectation for the game on Tuesday, it’s a very difficult game. For me, Odisha have the best foreign players in the league, even better than the teams at the top of the table. I know the coach because he’s my friend, I know some players because they are from Spain, but it’s difficult to know the ISL in your first season, likewise with me in my first season last year. Of course, they have a strong team, and they can beat any team, but then again, we can beat them.

Back-to-back draws in the last two games. Do you think the results are affecting the team’s momentum?

In the last six games, four have been draws. We are in a very difficult competition, very equal competition, and any team can beat the other team. We cannot play 20 games in less than four months.

Hyderabad FC have been playing decently; however, they have not been able to convert it into wins, similar to the situation in the last season. Do you see a similar scenario as well?

I see a similar scenario for all the teams. Jamshedpur and Kerala have four draws while we have three draws till now. We played a normal game in our match against FC Goa but not against East Bengal. So, I don’t know what will happen in this game, in the first leg (first round of fixtures) as well as in the second leg (second round of fixtures).

Hyderabad FC were the underdogs last season and are the favourites in this season. How do you stabilise the players to focus on the game and not give in to these high expectations?

According to me, we are not one of the favourites to qualify for the top four because we have one of the lowest budgets in the competition. Maybe there are 5-6 teams that can sign players. But I understand how football works and we know what it takes to finish in the top four.

I don’t know if we have a good style of play, but I know there are expectations for our side to make it to the top four like in other countries. No top four means our season has been bad. We will fight till the end but ultimately only the four teams can qualify, so we are trying. We are in a good position, but we can definitely play better at this moment.    

Does it bring pressure to you following the shifting of Hyderabad FC’s position in the league table changing every week?

We don’t have pressure. We are playing football. If you feel pressure, then leave football and maybe play an individual sport. Because if it’s collective and you feel pressure then maybe it’s better you leave the team. I don’t know what pressure is, especially in our sport.

We play every game and try our best to win it, if we win, it’s fantastic, and if we don’t, it’s because we felt pressure, ridiculous in my opinion. When you lose one game, it’s okay, of course you are angry, but you have to improve, but you have to keep calm and play your game.

This season, Hyderabad FC have the best defense in terms of the goals conceded. What do you think has contributed to that so far? And how do you think you can keep going?

If we get to be the team that concedes the least number of goals, for sure, we will arrive to the top four. As a team, we need to be safe in defense and at the moment we are working very well, but not only in terms of goalkeeping but also as an overall team.

Is the team shaping up the way you wanted? What areas do you think still still require some improvement?

There is always room for improvement. We are not happy with the last game. I don’t want to put out excuses by labelling we have injuries, we put young players with less experience on the pitch who are not prepared to play every game because this is not the style of play Hyderabad FC wants.

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